ABT-299 is an aqueous soluble prodrug that is converted rapidly in vivo to A-85783, a novel, highly potent, specific platelet activating factor (PAF) antagonist. The K, for inhibiting PAF binding to rabbit platelet membranes is 3.9 and 0.3 nM for human platelets. Inhibition is selective and reversible and is correlated with functional antagonism of PAF-mediated cellular responses (calcium mobilization, priming of superoxide generation, aggregation and degranulation). The in vivo generation of A-85783 from ABT-299 leads to potent inhibition of PAF-induced inflammatory responses (increased vascular permeability, hypotension and edema) and PAF-induced lethality. When administered i.v., the potency (ED50) of ABT-299 for inhibiting PAF responses was between 6 to 10 micrograms/kg in the rat and mouse and 100 micrograms/kg in the guinea pig. A dose of 100 micrograms/kg in the rat provided greater than 60% protection for 8 to 16 hr against cutaneous and systemic PAF challenge. This duration was also evidenced by ex vivo inhibition of platelet aggregation in guinea pig and sheep. In addition to being active parenterally, ABT-299 exhibited p.o. activity in the rat and mouse (ED50 = 100 micrograms/kg in both species). Pharmacokinetic studies in the rat revealed that ABT-299 was converted rapidly to A-85783 and, in turn, metabolized to the corresponding pyridine-N-oxide and sulfoxide metabolites. These metabolites exhibited significant potency in vitro and in vivo and thus may contribute to the activity observed after administration of ABT-299.